97 Tasting Notes

75

As I was scouring my mind for a taste descriptor besides buttered popcorn (unsalted), something to describe the particular vegetal note, edamame emerged as the answer, and I was pleased that I’d locked it. Then I read the description from Verdant of the growing process: “Rows of soybeans grow between the tea bushes to distract insects, and the beans are used as … fertilizer.” Whoa, floored me. Here I was thinking I’d pulled out this abstract analogy and it was totally concrete, if the tea absorbs any of its neighbor-plant through air or roots. Like scenting tea with jasmine flowers. I’m clearly no botanist but it seems plausible, and if true, makes me wonder if I’ll ever have such a bulls-eye in future reviews ;) I will not go so far, however, as to start consuming different kinds of worms, soil and fertilizer to further develop this skill.

The tea is smooth and savory, very pleasant, low-key, mild astringency.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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83

Spring’s first grass freshly mowed then gently sauteed with butter, that’s this tea. It’s a soothing, just-barely-sweet and savory green. A lot of flavor and very smooth, no edge whatsoever. Many thanks to Teavivre for the generous samples, it has been a fun tasting journey!

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81
drank Bailin Gongfu Black Tea by Teavivre
97 tasting notes

This is a tea I would be delighted with if it were served to me in a restaurant… smooth and full-bodied with natural notes of simmering caramel sweetness. Just a slight astringency adds a little extra interest without being puckerish. Noteworthy dropoff in character and flavor on the second steep — making it a less remarkable cup, but the first steep is worth the price of admission. Very nice overall, thanks to Angel at Teavivre for the generous sample!

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83
drank Caramel Apple Spice by Yogi Tea
97 tasting notes

I don’t know what “Organic Caramel Flavor” is and that makes me a bit leery of this tea but just drinking it blind, on flavor characteristics alone, I’ve gotta say this is very enjoyable. Caramel apple but not that sweet. There’s a nice, fresh fruity-apple taste. It has ginger, clove and cardomom among the ingredients but they are played down entirely – this is not at all a spicy brew, but soft and fruity… those ingredients are likely what prevents the overall flavor from being too sweet. It’s a savory sweetness. Did I say yum? Smooth. This would also be excellent iced, no need for adding sugar.

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74
drank Chocolate Monkey by World Tea House
97 tasting notes

This has a nice flavor palette, naturally mildly sweet… the addition of banana is a nice touch, rounds it out. If it were only less ‘thin’… and I actually brewed it with 50% more tea than WTH advises. If I doubled it (next time) it’d possibly still not be sufficient. Adding a bit of almond milk didn’t help much in this respect, either. So it loses a few points for that. It’s otherwise a very pleasantly flavored gentle tea to wind down with in the evening.

Preparation
7 min, 0 sec

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74
drank My Morning Mate by Teavana
97 tasting notes

Sipdown. Prefer this to Matevana by a long shot as this is much smoother and the flavors are better integrated, though a tad flat. Brews up nice and dark. Hazelnut with a hint of chocolate. Benefits from the addition of almond milk.

By the way, if you’re looking for a mate-based coffee substitute, the best – by far – that I’ve found is Guayaki’s Javamate, in either Vanilla or Mocha Maca flavors. That is purely on a flavor and body basis… you can even brew it in your coffeemaker. And there are pluses, as well — it is a socially-responsible company and these products also contain ramon nut, a rainforest “superfood” that’s still largely under the radar, at least in the US. Whole Foods used to carry it but now you can only order it from the company, apparently.

Preparation
Boiling

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66
drank MateVana by Teavana
97 tasting notes

The reviews are all over the map on this one, and I fall into the “where’s the chocolate?” camp. I love mate but this tastes like smokey bark. Actually dislike it unless it gets a splash of almond milk, that helps a lot. I’m almost tempted to add sugar but I never do that when rating a tea. Maybe I got a bad batch. As a coffee substitute it moderately succeeds, based mostly on its depth/body. I really like Guayaki’s Javamate, in either Vanilla or Mocha Maca flavors, as a coffee substitute. Both of them leave Matevana in the dust flavor-wise, plus Guayaki’s a good company, socially, and the products contain another rainforest superfood, ramon nut.

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65
drank Cocoa Canela (organic) by DAVIDsTEA
97 tasting notes

Now that I’ve tasted more chocolate teas, I’m dropping my rating on this, since the complementarity of flavors seems to be off balance, so sitting and enjoying a cup of this leaves me wanting something to be different, rather than kicking back with a big “aaah”… it’s overweighted toward a sharp cinnamon, at least in the sample I had. Also tried it with a little almond milk and that didn’t help, only diminished its character.

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87

Enjoyable! This was a surprise because I’m so jaded by so-called chocolate teas. I didn’t have to search for the cocoa or the coconut, both tasted natural and there were no ‘off’ flavor notes at all — smooth sailing. It is a little thin but there’s enough flavor to not be dissatisfying, just give it a good long steep, as my brethren here suggest. Drank with nothing added.

Preparation
Boiling 7 min, 0 sec

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65

Slight cocoa fragrance, faintly chocolatey flavor. It’s a great ingredient list but the flavor doesn’t live up to expectations. I would not describe this as having surprising depth and body, even after I added almond milk. I think this tea might be nice as a low-key flavoring element for a fuller bodied puerh.

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Profile

Bio

Strong preference for exploring teas au naturel, and unflavored (except for unprocessed ingredients, e.g., cocoa shells/nibs, vanilla beans, flowers, fruits…). Favorites lean in the direction of rich caramelly, malty blacks, any puerh, fresh floral oolongs and whites that have some dimension.

I am always up for swaps.

Beyond the experience of tea, I’m interested in exploring its medicinal aspects. Other interests … yoga, creative veggie cooking, environmental issues, animal welfare, music/guitar, lefty politics, preventive health/nutrition, biking, swimming, foosball, photography.

Here’s how I rate ’em:

95+: euphoria-inducing, le petite mort
91-94: extraordinary, exhilarating
85-90: delicious
81-84: definitely enjoyable
75-80: good, solid stuff
65-74: I’ll drink it, but without enthusiasm
45-64: something redeeming about it, but not much
31-44: just barely drinkable
< 30: tidy stream into the spit bucket

Location

Metro DC

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